Sophon Un-Bangsai is a dedicated teacher at Wat Phothaen School in Nakhon Nayok Province. As happens in many small schools, students in the area would prefer to go to large town schools, which have better facilities and more experienced teachers. This makes the job of teachers like Mr. Sophon even more challenging, as the students left behind are the ones who are the most vulnerable and most in need of quality teachers.
To help address these challenges, and provide a real chance for teachers like Mr. Sophon to make a difference in their students’ lives, Kenan Foundation Asia, with support from Boeing, the Bangkok Metropolitan Administration, and Education Service Area Offices in Nontaburi, Nakhon Nayok, and Samut Prakarn, launched the Boeing Technology Enhanced Learning project, which provides professional development for teachers and needed materials to help improve student outcomes. As demonstrated by the latest PISA results, with performance in reading and sciences severely declining since 2012 and math scores also falling, this is one of Thailand’s core education challenges.
Since 2009, Boeing and Kenan have worked together on the TEL project, which is supporting the development of teachers through training on innovative pedagogies and information and communications technology (ICT) that is blended into classroom learning. Under Boeing TEL professional development workshops, math and science teachers learn to maximize the use of technology in the classroom to induce higher-order thinking among students. Furthermore, teachers learn to apply research-based methodologies, including project-based learning (PBL), teaching scripts, and sequenced learning, to help engage students and improve their creative thinking and problem solving skills. In seven years, Boeing and Kenan have trained 145 school principals, 579 teachers, and 200 master teachers, who have in turn enhanced the learning experience of more than 500,000 students under the project, 6,000 in 2016 alone.
Kenan’s work to train teachers has helped Sophon, and teachers like him, to adapt his classroom approach and improve his student’s learning outcomes. “The lessons and suggested activities not only helped my students understand difficult concepts, but also enabled them to analyze a physics question; most importantly, everyone in my class, whether a good student or a poor student, enjoys learning and is more confident in their creativity. Many students were inspired to study further or pursue careers in STEM field,” said Sophon.
Mr Sophon was so pleased with the success of his students; he went for additional training from Kenan so he could serve as a master trainer and help other teachers learn TEL’s method. According to Mr. Sophon, “The math related projects often involve measuring, calculating and logical thinking. As mentors we sit together with students to discuss their challenges. My role is to coach teachers to ask students questions without directly giving the answer. This approach allows the students to reflect on the challenges, and progress to solving more complicated problems.”
Currently, 20 other schools in Bangkok, Samut Prakarn, Nakhon Nayok and Nontaburi are implementing the project’s philosophy and blending with the government’s initiative “Moderate Class More Knowledge”. The combination of superior classroom instruction and technology helps students’ master content knowledge and develop vital 21st century skills, such as critical thinking, communication, and creativity. The successful implementation of these elements will work towards improving Thailand’s education system.